I am not the cleanest person in the world. I am not a slob though my husband could argue otherwise some days, but I definitely leave some things to be desired in the tidiness of physical space category. My husband jokes (is it a joke?) that when he decided to propose to me, the only con he could think of was that I was going to make our house messier forever. Jokes on him – then we had two boys!
In order to make life a little ‘cleaner’ since having babies, I have come up with a few easy hacks for our family. I hope they help you!
1. Be a Shoe Free Environment
Being ‘shoe-free’ drastically changes what it is dragged into the house (both seen and unseen), end of story. It is also gives shoes a limited range which helps them from collecting in places you don’t want to see them, like next to the couch or under the coffee table.
2. Grab a Dust Buster
We keep a handheld dustbuster in a discreet corner of the kitchen. I love this little baby. I pop him out every few days when I noticed spilled formula powder on the floor or tidbits of food near the base of the pantry. I swing him around near the front door when people start tracking in pine needles in the fall, and click him on after tiny bits of ‘Puffs’ are found stuck to my feet walking past the high chair. The fact that it lives in the kitchen makes all the difference. When I first bought the dust buster, I had him in the garage and I never felt like going to get him. Convenience is everything.
3. Invest in a Roomba / PureClean
A vacuuming robot? Sign me up. When we first got our Roomba – it felt worthless. We don’t have a shedding dog and we didn’t have a food-flinging kid at the time. Oh, how things have changed. The Roomba really helps keep the floors free of dust, hair and tidbits of grossness. *I still think a vacuuming robot only works well in a relatively small house, but since I don’t live in a big house, it is hard to compare its effectiveness firsthand.
4. Purchase Toilet Bowl Cleaners
These little things promise to keep freshness without the fuss, and I am a sucker for them. These automatic toilet cleaner are meant to fights toilet rings and prevents stains between cleaning (because who has time to clean toilet bowls on the regular?).
5. Sterilize with Dr. Brown
When we first came home from the hospital and my husband asked how we were to sterilize the bottles and pump shields, I told him to wash them and then boil them. He looked at me like I had ten heads. He needed to get a non-food using pot, wait for boiling water, monitor the pieces and then let them hang dry? In retrospect that seemed like an inefficient method to propose. Some people might find that process easy as pie, but I found microwaving those suckers in the Dr. Brown’s Sterilizers the best thing since sliced bread. Talk to your doctor about sterilization and if it is right for your baby/household first. Choosing not to sterilize is also an easy way out!
6. Lay Down a Baby Food Drop Cloth
Our little ones love food. But most of the time, they love playing with it. Smash it, throw it and quickly fling it back and forth across highchair trays and kid’s tables. The baby drop cloth isn’t a magic solution but it’s definitely a helpful one. If we had a different highchair, I would have also probably bought this umbrella food catcher I once saw which seems super effective but mostly hilarious. You could also go to the opposite route and put nothing down – knowing you are going to wipe the floors instead of a mat. I use rags instead of paper towels to save time and trees!
7. Roll Down the Sleeves of a Smock
Speaking of keeping the baby (area) clean during meal time, I find that our little one requires a shield of armor to keep clothes from becoming ruined. To fight the time and energy it takes to deal with completely disgusting soiled and stained clothing, I gear-up my little man with this meal-time smock (there are tons of brands and styles, get what you like! Just make sure the material is thick enough to be waterproof). We have five so that we can rotate them through the wash regularly (we also wash them in the sink for the next use).
8. Pour in Some Oxiclean
When the shirt bib is not enough… soaking stained clothing in Oxiclean for an hour or longer totally helps get stains out during their wash – and it’s easy. I use it on the tough-stained baby clothing but consider running the cycle twice afterward to ensure no Oxiclean residue is left for sensitive-skinned kiddo. (You can also use just the spray for spot treating!).
9. Use a Detergent for the Whole Family
We use Seventh Generation Free and Clear Laundry Detergent but there are plenty of Free & Clear options. It is baby/sensitive skin-friendly but also tough enough to clean our ‘adult clothes’ (which coincidentally are definitely way less dirty and require much less toughness than our babies clothes). It comes in big containers which gets the family through quite a lot of loads. This makes it easier to wash a small load of my washing with a big load of baby clothes without having to run two cycles. It also makes purchasing easier – one product for the whole clan.
10. Keep a World of Wipes
Keep wipes in the bathroom. Yes, every bathroom. We have lysol wipes for the toilet seat, and windex wipes for the mirror. There are stainless steel wipes for the faucets if you fancy, but I just use the lysol wipes on the counters and sinks as well. Make wiping the bathroom down on a more normal basis easy by, yet again, convenience.
11. Machine Wash
Find items that can be put in the dishwasher or washing machine. This is obviously not possible for all things, but if they can’t be throw in the washing machine or the dishwasher, try limiting their use and save yourself washing time when feasible. I really suggest this for everyone in the family except the kid’s – since stainless still cups and bento boxes are a fav of mine and cannot be put in the dishwasher. I do love glass storage for tupperware and that helps a lot in the dishwasher!
12. Steer clear or things that need to be ironed.
This one is nearly impossible for many people that need crisp collars for work, but if you are able to wear a nice sweater or blouse instead of a something that needs pressing, you’ll have yourself time and energy.
13. Use Bins for Toys
We use collapsible bins for toys and spare baby products we keep in the playroom. Once the bins are tucked away, it looks nice and neat (and out of sight) versa open bins or toys just layered on shelves. It is super quick and easy to toss toys, puzzles, games and whatever else into bins for clean-up time and the bins themselves are easy to collapse and store later when they aren’t needed.
14. Stack the sink
Some people find it easier to wash and put dishes away promptly after using them but I find it takes less energy and time to let the dishes fill up in the sink until mid-date and then end of day. You spend less time opening and closing the dishwasher, soaping up your sponges and walking back and forth around your kitchen. Think of it as an assembly line for your washing and drying.
15. Fill and Start the Dishwasher at Night
Collect all the stray cups, dishes, and dishwasher safe baby gear (bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups, spoons and more!) for a nighttime wash. Running the dishwasher at night is easy and waking up to a clean kitchen is divine. You won’t need any of the goods overnight and you’ll start the day of with all fresh kitchen gear. (Washing baby products in the dishwasher doubles as sterilizing them which is an awesome timesaver if you are okay with plastics getting warm – which maybe you are not!).
16. Washable Refrigerator Liners
This product help cuts down the scrubbing of ick at the bottom of the fridge. You can just use them in the spots you keep produce likely to go back, leak or juice (like the fresh fruit and vegetable drawers).
17. Get in on the Rag & Bin Game
Before we had a kid, I don’t think we even owned a rag. For a spill here and there, we would wipe up with a paper towel. The random cleaning of the house used the most almost of paper rolled products. Now, we are a “rag and bin” family for sure. We have some rags that are completely baby related and others that are cleaning related. This cuts down on the cost and waste of paper towels (including the time and energy that goes into buying, storing, refilling, and waste management of hundreds of paper towels a month). We keep the rags neatly stocked up in our kitchen pantry next to a plastic bin that they get thrown in after they are used (rinsed and dryer on the sink rim a bit). We use the baby rags to wipe down hands/face and high chair/thrown food products after meal time, and the others to clean the house. They are spill efficient and generally super convenient. Having the plastic bin right there for their next launch into the washing machine also helps tremendously.
18. Break-out a Clutter Basket
Some people say you should keep a ‘clutter basket’ in every common room. For our tiny house, that would be overkill. One ‘clutter basket’ is efficient enough. Run around the house, throw in the random out-of-place-need-to-put-away items and then shuffle around restocking the good where they belong. This method cuts down on the time it takes to do one item at a time, it’s the mass producing of un-massing the products.
19. Get the Clothes off the Chair
We all know chair, the place for clothing that isn’t clean enough to be in the closet or dirty enough to be in the hamper. The best advice I’ve gotten (but still don’t always abide by…)? Immediately rehang items you wore, if they aren’t dirty enough to be in the bin – they are still wearable and wearable clothing is folded or hung.
Empty the dishwasher while you brew your coffee. Wash the dishes while your baby eats his snack. Fold the laundry while watching Netflix. Catch up with your mom while you wipe down the bathroom sink. We all know how to multitask, it’s just a matter of matching the task to the time. Find ways to put away, sort, clean, fold, or wash while you are waiting or doing something else. You can fit more into less time than you think you can!
21. Give everything a home
Invest some kid-free time (if it is possible to send them to school, a grandparents house, or to the park with a sitter for a few hours!) making/finding homes for random items. Figure out bins, bags, boxes, containers, stackers, dividers you might need as well as breaking out a bag for donation and another for trash. Finding a home for everything you are going to keep makes it easier to keep your space tidy. A home could even be a sorting bin for mail that you haven’t had a chance to go through yet, or a small container for loose items like chip clips and wine stoppers, as long as it doesn’t end up in random places like the kitchen table or disorganized in a ‘junk drawer’.
22. Get rid of things
Taking a page for Marie Kondo, having less stuff means less clutter, less time washing/caring for it or putting it away. We are so focused on consuming, we forget to purge. For clothing, check out places like Thredup and Tradesy for easy online sales. Nextdoor and Craigslist also come in handy for advertising free stuff for the taking. Focus your funds on experiences rather than stuff.